Fatal Attraction (1987)
‘I’m not going to be ignored, Dan,’
Fatal Attraction is a film about a happily married man named Dan (Micheal Douglas) who has a one night stand with a book editor named Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), but things start to get worse when Alex Forrest gets obsessive and stalks him and his family.
I had heard about this film long before I got round to watching it, and I was aware that the term ‘bunny boiler’ had been inspired by this film. I was also aware that it was rather controversial for its time.
Likewise, I think that it’s not the best film that I’ve seen, but it’s also not the worst. Glenn Close plays an incredible female villain, and one evil smile from her scared me entirely even before she spoke. I had seen her in 101 and 102 Dalmatians before, so it came to no surprise to me that she plays a brilliant female villain. I certainly won’t be going near rabbits, roller coasters, baths or knives any time soon. As for Micheal Douglas’ character, he was rather vulnerable in his position and she knew that so she emotionally manipulated him. He also played the part of Dan very well. Either way, none of the characters are straight up ‘good people’. Not even the daughter. The children in the film are used as metaphorical weapons rather than actual people.
It is a general observation that this could in fact be comparitable to the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘The Birds’ in the fact that something is always getting in the way of the traditional family unit. If I recall, there is one scene in the birds when the least significant character is pushed towards the back of the room and the traditional family is pushed towards the camera. It can also be applied to this film, as Alex Forrest is looking in from the outside, denied of a happy family while also not being part of his family at all, which could also be elaborated on as there is a black bar between Micheal Douglas’ character and his wife and daughter, showing that the affair had destroyed the family unit. The fact that in some scenes, there are no other sounds other than the phone ringing shows how she is constantly plaguing him. I should also add that the rabbit in the cage is a metaphor for him as Dan feels like he’s in a cage and domestic space, which is usually a comfort, is now his trap. The parallel shots of the daughter running and the mother approaching the pan with the boiled rabbit in it provokes a reaction from the viewer to really show how evil Alex Forrest actually was. The film is not afraid to toy with your fear of heights or water, and uses effective camera angles to do so. The director generally uses a lot of parallel shots and faced paced music in the film to build tension and build up that turns out to be scarier than the film itself.
Anyway, it’s a film that takes me by surprise, but it’s not within my top 5 or 10. It would be a good film to look at from a psychological point of view or if you wanted to look at the role of female villains in fiction. The character of Alex Forrest is what we would now call a ‘psychotic ex’.